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IMPALA presents Outstanding Contribution Award to [PIAS] founders

By | Published on Tuesday 4 July 2023


Pan-European indie label trade group IMPALA has announced that the recipients of its Outstanding Contribution Award this year are [PIAS] founders Michel Lambot and Kenny Gates. The award comes as the music company continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary, it having been originally launched in autumn 1982.

IMPALA notes: “Over the last four decades, [PIAS] has grown from a vinyl record importer on behalf of UK independent record labels into a key European and global recording, marketing, and distribution outlet. Currently with nineteen offices and 280 employees active globally, [PIAS]’s engagement within the independent music company sector speaks volumes”.

Lambot and Gates were also founders of IMPALA itself back in 2000, and have been very involved in other indie community initiatives, like indie label digital rights agency Merlin and the globally focused WIN.

Since 2021, [PIAS] has also had a partnership with Universal Music, which resulted in the major taking a 49% stake in the company last year. However, at the time that deal was announced, [PIAS] was very keen to stress that “[we] remain fully independent and … founders Kenny Gates and Michel Lambot will retain majority control of the company – Universal Music Group will have no seats on the company’s board”.

Confirming the presentation of the award to Lambot and Gates, IMPALA Executive Chair Helen Smith says: “Michel and Kenny’s story is an inspiration to all emerging independents starting out in the sector. The contribution of [PIAS] to the European music sector is totally unique”.

“The amazing 40th anniversary re-releases speak for the artists and great music”, she goes on, “and IMPALA, Merlin and WIN speak for their approach on collaboration making everyone stronger. This award honours their deep passion and dedication”.

Lambot adds: “Back some 25 years ago, we had the idea to combine forces of a handful of independent companies to increase our market leverage and playing field. That sounded crazy and naive: trying to unify independent companies owned and run by people fiercely independent was antinomic”.

“And now getting an award by IMPALA, which has become a kind of institution, makes me feel so proud and so happy”, he continues. “The recognition by our peers of what we did all these years and are still doing, Kenny and myself, as [PIAS] on one hand, and for the independent world on the other hand, is very moving”.

Meanwhile, Gates says: “Our goal at [PIAS] has always been to expand our dreams by creating a company of holistic values that reflects a pan-European diversity. It’s been an incredible journey of constant adaptation, and we couldn’t receive this award without thanking all our staff and friends”.